David Teles Pereira interviewed by Ana Hudson:
Q: David, you are one of the youngest poets on the Portuguese poetry scene. Was poetry the first manifestation of your literary inclinations?
A: My impulse for writing has always depended on what I read. I started to read poetry much later than prose, naturally. I used to read novels by Stephen King, detective stories my mother liked, anything I could find about the Middle Ages or that I associated with that period which, for some reason, has always fascinated me. And those were the types of writings I mimicked. Fortunately, poetry only featured later on, when I started to explore the higher-up shelves on the parental bookcase. I don’t know why, but my parents kept the few poetry books they had up in the gods. One of them was – still is – a book by Yvette K. Centeno which has an epigraph by Paul Celan. Rather than the book, it was the epigraph that gripped me. I felt this urgency to know who was that great poet and what had he written.
Q: Do poems come ‘knocking at your door’ all day long or do you sit down and summon them?
A: Neither, really. What sometimes pops up is a line or, if I’m luckier, two. But they may not survive in the final poem. I think I’m closer to the second suggestion but, honestly, who isn’t?
Q: How good are your organisational skills, given the variety of your multiple activities as writer, critic, blogger, publisher, university lecturer in law and your daily job as a financial law consultant?
A: I like writing and all my work is basically writing. To be honest the border lines between all my types of writing are not very rigid. Due to this, I write few poems. I spend a long time on my blog, preparing lectures or researching for my academic work. It isn’t really a question of brain organisation; it’s rather a focusing on what is necessary. I’m more in need of lecturing, reading political philosophy or writing about a restaurant on my blog than writing a poem.
Q: Would you like to elaborate on the following lines which end one of your most poignant poems, ‘Biography – Part 4 – the land'; and in which way would you relate them (or not) with your Polish-Jewish ancestry:
Writing on the earth proves a number of things,
but much better proof appears when you wipe it out,
for the earth does not meet the land, nor the blood.
We are not people one meets with pleasure.
A: My poems are biographical, which doesn’t mean that they are necessarily true. We depend on our parents to know what happened in our family before we existed or even before we started to be able to remember. But my parents are very forward looking; they don’t talk a lot about the past. I write, partly, to construct my past, with true facts and imaginary ones. I use them in order to create a memory of myself, in order to build an identity. My ascendency, being real, is part of this mirror game. The Jewish part was, once, the prevailing one. Today, I’m more interested in Poland than the rest.
Q: Together with Diogo Vaz Pinto, a fellow poet, you edit a poetry magazine, ‘Criatura’, and run a small poetry publishing company, ‘Língua Morta’. What are your criteria for choosing material to publish?
A: The criteria are simple and the same for both. We publish the poems and the books which we feel we want to be seen to appreciate.
Q: Can you discern any new distinct trend in the works of the youngest generation of Portuguese poets?
A: The identifying factors among the youngest poets seem to me to be much more characterised by opportunism than by the defense of a set of shared ideas. This is perhaps, the trend I least like and, simultaneously, the reason why, among the youngest and more recent poets, I favour the poetry of Diogo Vaz Pinto and Luís Filipe Parrado.